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The Not-So-Long-Lost Engine Hatch

As a reporter for the performance boat industry, I come across some great feel-good stories year in and year out. For some reason though 2019 seems to be loaded with more than usual.

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Little did Louisiana’s Nate Michel know that a fellow performance boat enthusiast he met at his hometown Tickfaw 200 Poker Run months ago would be so helpful at the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout in Missouri. Photo by Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix

For example, a month ago Louisiana’s Nate Michel—a life-of-the-party, shirt-off-his-back performance boater I’ve had the pleasure of conversing with several times for various stories on different boats he’s owned and events he’s attended—thought the port-side engine hatch that flew off in the middle of Lake of the Ozarks while cruising Cloud IX, the 40-foot MTI he had completely redone over the last two years, around the popular Central Missouri lake during the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout Poker Run was long gone.

Little did he and the crew in his boat, which included his wife, Robin, and his friend and throttleman, Randy Sweers of FB Marine Group, know but a friend—in the performance boat community you can call someone that even though you’ve only met them one time at a poker run—witnessed the hatch blowing off in the main channel of the lake near Redhead Yacht Club and Performance Boat Center that Friday morning and retrieved it.

“To be honest, I was a little down because I’d had some misfortunes with both of my boats that week at the lake and we were just hanging out in the channel watching the big boats go by, which is what we were supposed to be doing not sitting in a embarrassing rental boat, when all of the sudden as Nate cruised by in his MTI we see the engine hatch fly into the air,” said Chad MacDonald, a dedicated performance boater from Colorado who has owned too many boats to list here—although he recently sold his Formula Boats 382 FAS3Tech and now owns a 35-foot Donzi Marine center console that he plans to take to Florida for the upcoming Florida Powerboat Club Key West Poker Run. “The hatch went at least 100 feet in the air; it was crazy to see. I don’t know how fast they were going, but they were getting after it. Following my initial reaction, which was ‘Holy (expletive)’, I immediately thought we needed to go find the hatch for everyone else’s safety on the lake, not just because Nate needed it back. We didn’t want someone hitting it, and it was floating right in the middle of the channel.

Read more: The Not-So-Long-Lost Engine Hatch

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